Otsego softball players (from left) Kendra Vanderlugt, Skylar Anderson and Kayla Merrill show off the balls they hit over the fence for their first home runs of the season. The homers came as part of the Rylee Lou Charity Softball Tournament, which the Bulldogs won. (Photo provided)

Host Otesgo wins Rylee Lou Charity Softball Tournament

Jason Wesseldyk

For the fifth year in a row, the Otsego softball team hosted the Rylee Lou Charity Softball Tournament to raise money for children living with Type 1 diabetes.
And for the first time in those five years, the Bulldogs came away with the tournament championship.
Otsego pounded out a total of 41 hits—13 of them going for extra bases—and outscored its three opponents by a combined score of 35-7 to finish 3-0 and take top honors.
Otsego coach Jake Knash—whose daughter Rylee was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and served as the inspiration for the tournament—was obviously thrilled with his team’s play.
“It was an awesome feeling to win our own charity tournament,” he said. “We have been doing this charity for five years and this is the first year we have won the tournament. Rylee threw out the first pitch and the charity was a great success.”
The money raised goes toward sending children with Type 1 diabetes to summer camp.
“I’m not sure what our final total was, but it will be enough to cover the kids who have applied to go to summer camp,” Knash said.
Otsego opened its day with a 16-3 win over Lawton that was stopped after five innings due to the mercy rule and featured a home run from Skylar Anderson. The Bulldogs then beat Buchanan 7-2 before collecting a 13-2, five-inning win over Middleville that was highlighted by homers from Kayla Merrill and Kendra Vanderlugt.
“Overall, I think my team played very well,” Knash said. “The bats really came alive.”
That they did, as evidenced by the fact that four Otsego players collected six hits during the three games.
And no Bulldog had a hotter bat than Merrill. After going 0-for-2 in the Lawton game, Merrill went on a tear, going 6-for-6 the last two games with a double, a triple and her home run.
Kayla Krusinga also went 6-for-8.
“Kayla Merrill has been on a great streak this week along with Kayla Krusinga,” Knash said.
Vanderlugt and Jada Bolhuis each went 6-for-11. Like Merrill, Vanderlugt had a double, a triple and a home run.
Anderson added a double to go with her home run as part of a 4-for-10 effort, with Ally Watson lacing two doubles as part of her 3-for-5 showing.
“I think we have a lot of potential right now at the plate,” Knash said. “We have some really good hitters who have not even started to see what they can do yet. It will definitely start to click as we move forward.”
In addition to her work at the plate, Vanderlugt pitched all three games. She pitched a total of 17 innings, allowing seven runs (four earned) on 14 hits with three walks and 13 strikeouts.
Vanderlugt struck out 11 in the Lawton game.
“Kendra pitched very well and the defense played well behind her,” Knash said. “She is just surrounded by eight other girls who play tough defense.”
Otsego made three total errors.


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